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July 20, 2004

Updating My Blogroll

I'm going to update my woefully out of date blogroll over the next few days. Do me a favor: if you have me on your roll and I've failed to put you on mine, please let me know.

I'm also doing a re-design of my other site, ResurrectionSong and will be adding some of the links from this site to that one's blogroll.

Thanks for your patience, y'all, it is greatly appreciated.

Posted by zombyboy at 03:02 PM | Comments (8)

While We Sit on the Sidelines...

Mark Steyn on why the West has so far failed the civilians being slaughtered in Sudan.


The Americans could probably make a difference in Sudan, too. The USAF could target and bomb the Janjaweed as effectively as they did the Taliban. But then John Mann and Harold Pinter and Rupert Everett would get their knickers in a twist, and everyone from John Kerry to Polly Toynbee would complain that it's "illegitimate" unless it's authorised by the UN. The problem is, by the time you've gone through the UN, everyone's dead.

The UN system is broken beyond repair. In May, even as its proxies were getting stuck into their ethnic cleansing in Darfur, Sudan was elected to a three-year term on the UN Human Rights Commission. This isn't an aberration: Zimbabwe is also a member. The very structure of the organisation, under which countries vote in regional blocs, encourages such affronts to decency.

And that's the cold truth. The far left of the world would rather that the nations who could make a difference don't. Because there is never a justification for killing. Because there is never a justification for war. Because, as long as we keep ourselves out of it, the only blood spilled is the blood of the innocent at the hands of the tyrants. Because give peace a chance, man.

I'm sorry, but that's a pretty high cost for a supposedly clean conscience.

The tough part, being an American, and being pro-intervention is that as powerful as the US is, both militarily and politically, even we don't have the power to right all of the world's wrongs.

My favorite book of all time is Catcher in the Rye. One of the things that I liked about it was the idea of the catcher--that is, the person running through the rye, at the edge of the cliff, doing his damnedest to keep children from falling over the edge. As you grow up, you realize that there is only so much you can do to help keep the world safe from danger--and that "so much" is really "so little." Like Holden, we all realize that we have to grow out of our Superman fantasies.

The UN is different. As a theoretical league of nations, it does have the power to make a great difference in the world. If the UN were an organization dedicated to its charter--the prevention of genocide, for instance--it would be an organization dedicated to actually acting in the interest of the Sudanese people, and the millions that live in places like Zimbabwe.

Unfortunately, the UN is devoted to its clean conscience. A devotion that comes at the cost of thousands upon thousands of lives throughout the world, year after year, while we all sit on the sidelines and watch. Sooner or later, the US or the UN will probably send troops in, but the blood will have been shed, the women brutally murdered and raped, and the lives left to be saved will be few.

Again, that seems like an awfully high price for the innocent to pay.

I call bullshit. Our conscience isn't clean when we sit back and watch the innocent die while our politicians either ignore the situation or debate it until the mass graves are filling up again.

Read the story.

Update: For an opposing (or, more accurately, a different) view on this subject, check out this post. While I disagree with the writer, Michael (and do think that bombing and strategic intervention can be effective as part of a larger effort for creating changes--that is, bombing by itself isn't enough, but can be part of a larger effort of regional change) it's well worth reading. Notably, I don't disagree with the idea of using economic pressure to force change, either--but that by itself is rarely enough.

Saddam Hussein, theoretically, faced draconian economic measures designed to force him to comply with UN mandates and to bring about political changes. These measures simply didn't work--and, in dealing with oil, there is always a potential buyer willing to funnel oil into the world market where there is no differentiation between one nation's oil and another.

Whereas Michael doesn't seem to like the idea of military intervention, I propose that, while military intervention isn't always the answer, there are times when it needs to be one of many approaches used in forcing changes in the worst possible situations. A few weeks ago, I wrote Confessions of a Bleeding Heart Warmonger on my other site, and I think it outlines, to some extent, how I feel about war in general and Iraq in specific.

In the Sudan, I happen to think that an invasion of the type seen in Iraq isn't even remotely necessary. I do believe, though, that an escalating, aggressive response that starts with economic inducements and scales to military intervention over a very short period of time is in order.

Thanks to Michael for taking the time to respond and for pointing to his own article on the subject.

Posted by zombyboy at 01:36 PM | Comments (3)

July 15, 2004

Why All of Africa is in America's Interest

When Americans think of helping African nations, at best typically think of humanitarian and altruistic aid that will never be more than an exercise in kindness. At worst, they simply sit back and grimly assume that the problems in Zimbabwe or the Sudan, for example, aren't the problems that America needs to be concerned with or the kinds of problems that America can help solve. Rarely do we Americans think in a long-term strategic sense.

The Angola Press is noting a former American Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, one Chester Croker, who has a wholly different view--and a view that I happen to agree with.


Former US assistant secretary of state for African affairs Chester Crocker has underscored the continentís importance in his countryís strategic interests in view of its proximity with the Middle East.

According to a news release issued by the American Cultural Centre in Dakar, Crocker was giving a lecture organised by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies during the presentation of a report on the US governmentís African policy.

The former senior US official turned academician maintained that Africa has turned into a potential battlefield between "terrorist forces and anti-terrorist allies".

The report, prepared at the request of the US Congress and entitled "The Growing United States Stakes in Africa" calls for "ambitious" extension of the US diplomatic and intelligence presence in Africa, especially "crisis-response diplomacy".


Oddly, one of my country's largest failings has been its unwillingness to become involved in overseas politics until a situation is near a bursting point. The American tendency, when dealing with international matters that do not directly effect our national security, is two fold: to maintain a diplomatic distance from problem zones as long as possible followed by an eye roll about the rest of the worlds' inability to police their own. Directly following the national rolling of the eyes, Americans will roll up their sleeves and commence to fixing problems, whether invited or not.

Let me be clear, I don't necessarily think of this as a bad thing. I, patriotic conservative that I am, think that America has managed to do quite a bit of good around the world (and, yes, there were bad moments, too).

What I think would be better, though, is if America were to think in this kind of a long view way and recognize the dangers that wait for us if we continue to allow African nations to slowly slip into anarchy and violence. If Afghanistan was a good breeding ground for terrorism, how bad will it be when terrorists re-locate their camps and their command structures to Africa, migrating south through failing nations?

Worse, having terrorists entrenched throughout the continent will only exacerbate the tendency of those nations to fall into violent political struggle.

The long view tells us that helping African nations learn to be successful members of the international community will help the rest of us sleep in peace. For Americans, though, the urge to bring the troops home and mind our own business is, largely, overwhelming--and the thought of becoming more directly involved in Africa is just one task too many.


They insisted that, if applied correctly, preventive measures and peacekeeping interventions could save the lives of thousands of persons and promote the basic interests of the United States, which is to bring order and stability in Africa.

The report urged the US to allocate more funds to finance United Nations peacekeeping operations in Africa and the training of African armies.

According to the authors, Africa is "in the limelight" and is assuming greater importance at this moment as the US moves away from purely humanitarian concerns.


Humanitarian efforts are in their own way satisfying, but saving a nation from tyranny and the destruction that terrorists would bring into a country is far more fulfilling in the long run. We Americans may not want to deal with the problems of Africa, but if we simply sit on the sidelines and watch the troubles unfold, there will be painful repercussions in the long run.

Read the story.

Posted by zombyboy at 04:53 PM | Comments (0)

July 14, 2004

Ethiopundit

Earlier today, I got an email from the blogger behind Ethiopundit--a polite request to take a look at his site and see if I had a place for him on the 'roll.

The short of it is, it's a great blog that I will be visiting regularly. I'm glad he took the time to ask me to drop by. Please take a moment to drop by and read what's on offer at Ethiopundit; you won't be disappointed.

Check it out.

Posted by zombyboy at 03:40 PM | Comments (1)

July 13, 2004

Regression

Firstly, my apologies for leaving this site alone for the last month or so. It's been tremendously busy in my personal and professional life. I intend to get back to a two to three updates per week on the site--and more if I have any help in the form of either submissions or suggestions.

For today, though, it's oddly uncomfortable to realize that some things in the world just don't seem to change much no longer how long you spend away from them. Zimbabwe's slow slide into self-destruction, for example.

Most of a Beeb article on the introduction of state-sponsored ox-drawn ambulances in the more rural regions of the country is just sort of funny. The note at the end of the article on infant mortality somehow ruins the mood.


Maternal mortality has increased from 283 per 100,000 live births in 1994 to 695 per 100,000 births in 1999.

"The gains made over the last 20 years to address maternal mortality, especially to provide emergency obstetric care services, are at risk of being lost," said Dr Juan Ortiz, Chief of the Health, Nutrition and Environment Section at Unicef.

"We know that most of the complications related to childbirth are preventable if obstetric services are available, especially in remote areas," he said.


Zimbabwe may not quickly be returning to the "stone age," as some opposition leaders suggest, but it is certainly grinding its remaining vestiges of a developing nation down to near-nothing.

Read the story.

Posted by zombyboy at 11:42 PM | Comments (0)
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